Novelist Patricia Dunn will read from Rebels by Accident at the Levantine Cultural Center, on Monday, August 27, 7 pm. She is an American journalist and political activist who lived in Egypt for many years. She is the former editor of MuslimWakeup, the progressive web site for reformist Islam, and has written for various publications. Her first book is the novel Rebels by Accident, the story of what happens when a troubled teen is sent to Cairo right around the time of the uprising against the Mubarak regime. A fast read, the book serves as a guide for young Muslim Americans, urging them to take pride in one’s heritage and culture. Dunn’s message is that although Arab American identity can be quite difficult in this day and age, by voicing one’s opinions change is very much possible. Read a Levantine review.

Old Document Reveals Saudi Assured UK of Palestine

An ancient document has revealed that the UK got assured by Sultan Abdul Aziz, the founder of Saudi Arabia assured, of creating a Jewish state on Palestinian lands, Press TV reported.

The controversial document that was written as a notice to then British delegate Major General Sir Percy ZachariahCox, shows how deeply the first Saudi King was committed to the United Kingdom and how he gave assurance to Britain to give Palestine to the Jews.

“I am the Sultan Abdul Aziz Bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud al-Faisal and I conceded and acknowledged a thousand times to Sir Percy Cox, delegate of Great Britain, that I have no objection to giving Palestine to the poor Jews or even to non-Jews, and I will never ever violate their [the UK] orders,” read the note signed by King Abdul Aziz.

Saudi Arabia was of great importance to the UK during the 1930s because it was located along the shortest seaway to India and Australia throughout the Red Sea and shortest air route to the east.

( / 13.08.2012)

Tunesische grondwet niet klaar voor april 2013

De Nationale Grondwetgevende Vergadering van Tunesië zal de nieuwe grondwet niet voor april 2013 goedkeuren, bijna zes maanden later dan gepland. Dat zei de afgevaardigde en de algemene rapporteur van de Constituante, Habib Kheder. .

“De grondwet kan tegen eind april ter stemming voorgelegd worden”, zei Kheder, de gekozene van Ennahda, de islamistische partij die de Constituante domineert. Ennahda vormt een regeringscoalitie met de centrumlinkse partijen Congres voor de Republiek en Ettakol.

Tot nu toe hield de Tunesische regering vol dat de grondwet kon goedgekeurd worden op 23 oktober 2012. Verkiezingen zouden dan plaatsvinden in maart 2013.

Volgens Kheder vergadert de Constituante op 3 september over de nieuwe kalender, aan de vooravond van het nieuwe parlementaire jaar. De rapporteur weigerde zich uit te spreken over de datum van de komende verkiezingen. “Verkiezingen zijn de bevoegdheid van de regering.”

( / 13.08.2012)

Ethiopia: Authorities Crack Down on Muslim Press

Nairobi — Ethiopian authorities must release a journalist who has been detained for almost three weeks, and allow three Muslim news outlets to resume publishing immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Local journalists believe the Muslim press in Ethiopia is being targeted for its coverage of protests by the Muslim community.

In recent months, Ethiopian Muslims have begun staging protests on Fridays to oppose government policies they say are interfering with their religious affairs, according to news reports. These protests are a highly sensitive issue for the government, which fears a hardline Islamist influence within the predominantly Christian country, news reports said. Local journalists believe the recent harassment of Muslim journalists and newspapers are part of an attempt by Ethiopian authorities to quell coverage of the ongoing protests in the capital.

At least eight police officers raided the home of Yusuf Getachew, editor of YeMuslimoch Guday (Muslim Affairs), in the evening of July 20 in the capital, Addis Ababa, and took the journalist to the Maekelawi Federal Detention Center, according to local journalists. The police also confiscated four of Yusuf’s mobile phones, his wife’s digital camera, books, and 6,000 birr (US$334), the same sources said.

Yusuf was charged the next day with treason and incitement to violence, but the state prosecutor did not cite any YeMuslimoch Guday articles as evidence, local journalists told CPJ. Yusuf has not been granted family visits, and his defense lawyer saw him for the first time on Wednesday, the journalists said.

Two other YeMuslimoch Guday journalists, Senior Editor Akemel Negash and Copy Editor Isaac Eshetu, have gone into hiding, local journalists told CPJ. The police have had the homes of both journalists under surveillance since late July, and stopped only recently, local journalists said. YeMuslimoch Guday, which actively covered the Muslim protests in the capital, has not been published since Yusuf’s arrest, the same sources said.

On July 20, police also raided the offices of the privately owned Horizon printing press in Addis Ababa and confiscated copies of Selefiah and Sewtul Islam, two Muslim weeklies, according to news reports. Authorities detained Horizon’s owner overnight, and neither Selefiah nor Sewtul Islam has been published since, according to reports and local journalists. Local journalists told CPJ that the government had ordered the printer to stop publishing the newspapers.

Ethiopian government officials did not immediately return CPJ’s calls for comment.

“Ethiopia has reached a high level of harassment of the press by attempting to censor coverage of the protests,” said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. “This harassment of journalists and news outlets must stop, and Yusuf Getachew should be released immediately.”

Also in late July, authorities blocked 30,000 copies of the critical weekly Feteh, which contained front-page coverage of the Muslim protests and the health of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, according to CPJ research. The weekly’s printer, the state-run Barhanena Selam, has suspended all further publications of Feteh until further notice, local journalists told CPJ.

( / 13.08.2012)

Frustrated Hamas seeks light at end of Egyptian tunnel

Hamas security forces patrol the border between Egypt and Gaza.

GAZA CITY (Reuters) — Hamas, stunned by Egypt’s closure of its border with Gaza, said on Monday the new Islamist leadership in Cairo was imposing the same pain on the Palestinian enclave as ousted former president, Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt pulled the shutters down on the Rafah passenger terminal a week ago after unidentified militants shot dead 16 Egyptian police near the Gaza border before launching an attack on neighboring Israel that was swiftly smothered.

Hamas denied speculation that some of the assailants had crossed from Gaza and has accused Egypt, led since June by an Islamist president, Muhammad Mursi, of imposing collective punishment on the impoverished Palestinians.

“We suffered from the unjust regime of Mubarak that participated in the (Israeli) blockade of Gaza. Why should we suffer now in the era of Egypt’s revolution and democracy?” said Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad.

“The Egyptian leadership is requested to order the reopening of the Rafah crossing to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians wanting to travel, students, patients, residents in third countries and pilgrims,” he added in a statement.

Israel has for years refused exit visas for all but a tiny minority in Gaza, making Rafah the sole window on the world for almost all of the enclave’s 1.7 million Palestinians, with some 800 people a day using the terminal to reach Egypt.

Since the closure, thousands have been stranded, although Cairo did order a brief opening on Friday to allow Palestinians trapped in Egypt to return home.

Egypt said on Monday it would open the crossing temporarily yet again, but just for three days, mainly to permit travel for humanitarian cases such as Palestinians seeking medical care abroad, and students, a Hamas official said.

“If Palestine was not a top priority for you, you should change direction,” Hammad said in an unusually sharp rebuke.

Hamas believed Mursi would usher in a new period of harmony between Gaza and Cairo, but that has yet to materialize because of strategic considerations involving Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel and related military aid from the United States.

Tunnel clashes

Immediately after the Sinai killings, Hamas ordered the closure of around 1,000 smuggling tunnels along its border with Egypt to prevent possible infiltration by attackers.

Several tunnels have remained operational bringing food, fuel and construction materials into Gaza, but Hamas has said it would be willing to see all the underground passages closed if Egypt agreed to defy Israel and let goods flow through Rafah.

Israel maintains a strict control of all imports into Gaza. Mubarak, deeply suspicious of the Islamists, was happy to support the Gaza blockade.

In a call underscoring deep fissures within Palestinian society, Hamas’s political foes have urged Egypt to destroy all the tunnels and starve the Islamist group of the multi-million dollar duties it imposes on smuggled produce.

“These tunnels, which solidified the division of Palestine in Gaza, have for some time been a threat to Egypt’s national security and the unity of the Palestinian people,” said Tayeb Abdel-Rahim, a top aide to President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas governs only in the nearby West Bank after Hamas defeated his forces in Gaza in a brief civil war in 2007.

“Illegal smuggling comes at the expense of the legitimate interests of our nation and its citizens,” he added. His comments were denounced by Hamas, which called the tunnels a “lifeline” for Gaza’s people.

( / 13.08.2012)

New Project: Dar Esaalam Hospital Fund Raising

Our next Gaza Project will be to raise funds for Dar Esaalam Hospital in Khan Yunis.

Dar Esaalam Hospital in Khan Yunis


The hospital serves 2,500 patients per month and relies wholly on charitable donations. It is woefully under equipped and Doctors are seriously over worked.
The hospital has an emergency department, dispensing pharmacy, operating theatre and recovery room and a gynaecology ward.
The emergency department has only three beds. I asked how the hospital coped in the Gaza Massacre of 2008-2009. I was told that doctors and nurses stopped blood flow as best they could, cleaned wounds and discharged patients becuase of lack of facilities.

Dar Essalam Hospital

There is one debibrillator and it looks as though it needs its own shock back to life.
The mattresses in the recovery room are worn and torn and the scan equipment in the gynaecology ward is hooked up to a cheap pc monitor.
This hospital is doing its best but without adequate equipment it cannot function fully.
The pharmacy is almost bare.
Please look at the photos in the gallery and watch the videos (interviews with the staff). If you can donate please do so either through Gaza Projects or contact the hospital via the link to the website.
If you can approach businesses and mosques/churches for fund raisers and if you can hold an event at a restaurant we can help update some of the equipment when Gaza Projects returns to Khan Yunis in October insh’allah.

You may find more pictures of the hospital in the Photo Gallery section.

You may donate by pressing the donate button on the left (please specify ‘Hospital Project’) or by directly donating the hospital bank account:

Direct Donations





( / 13.08.2012)

Why Is the U.S. Selling Saudi Arabia $60 Billion in Arms?

$60 billion-worth of arms—the largest such deal in U.S. history—are set to be sold to Saudi Arabia. The Obama administration appears to be on board with the proposed sale, which may come before Congressthis week. Though the massive sale is attracting little media attention overall, it is giving pause to individual journalists across the political spectrum.

  •  Makes the Cold War ‘Seem Like a Rotten Appetizer,’ writes Antony Adolf colorfully at, referring to the Saudi arms race with Iran. “The companies that stand to profit most from the deal are Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and General Electric. They claim the arms deal will support up to 75,000 jobs.” As Adolf points out, though, “that’s just a fraction of the number of people these weapons can potentially kill–in a few hours.”
  • ‘The Sheer Size … Makes It Worth Critical Reflection,’ agrees conservative magazine Commentary’s J. E. Dyer on the other side of the blogosphere.
  • Succession Could Put Anti-Western Prince in Charge  The Saudi king is elderly, note Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz at The Weekly Standard. He “could be replaced by his designated successor and half-brother Crown Prince Sultan, who is also in his 80s and ill, and then by Prince Nayef, the most rigid and anti-Western of the heirs to Ibn Sa’ud,” and “the first Saudi leader to declare that 9/11 was a Zionist conspiracy.” Al-Alawi and Schwartz worry that the weapons, “by the law of unintended consequences,” could “end up turned in a more dangerous direction.”
  • What Are These Arms Actually For?  J. E. Dyer isn’t quite buying the line that the sale is about “bolstering Saudi defenses and security confidence in the face of the threat from Iran.” Other nations with this goal “have been loading up on on missile-defense systems and air-defense fighters. The proposed Saudi sale, however, is weighted heavily toward strike aircraft (F-15s configured for ground attack) and anti-tank attack helicopters.” What are these for? Not to defend against Iraq, as they might have been “during the Saddam Hussein years.” Nor would it make sense for the Saudis to be “contemplating the invasion of Iran, even as a counter to an Iranian attack. Numbers and terrain are decisively arrayed against that as well.” He thinks, instead, they’re “arming as a regional rival to Iran–not for the defense of its own territory but as the leader of an Arab coalition, formed to gain ascendancy over Iran as the power broker in the Levant.” So this, then, is why Dyer thinks Congress should look this deal over carefully:

Western analysts tend to miss the fact that Iran’s moves against Israel constitute a plan to effectively occupy territory that the Arab nations consider theirs to fight for. … The Saudis’ military shopping list doesn’t match their defensive requirements against Iran, but if the strategic driver is a race to Jerusalem, it contains exactly what they need.

  • The Reason for the Sale (and Why No One’s Protesting)  The sale would have been “politically untenable several years ago,” according to experts talked to by The Christian Science Monitor’s Stephen Kurczy. Saudi Arabia was too closely linked with terrorism in the American public consciousness. But now, “arming Saudi Arabia [is] seen as a way to counter Iran.” Meanwhile, “Israeli concerns about the newest deal have been reportedly calmed by assurances that the jets will lack long-range weapons systems and be of a lower grade than those sold to Israel.” But the real justification for the sale in the minds of American policymakers may be this, according to Thomas Lippman of the Council on Foreign Relations: “to convince the Saudis that we can take care of their security concerns without them getting nuclear.”

( / 13.08.2012)

Saudi Arabia gives $50 million aid to Myanmar Muslims

  1. A member of the Bangladesh Coast Guard serves food to Mohammad Rafique and Amena Akter, both Rohingyas from Myanmar, in Teknaf June 19, 2012. Foto: Andrew Biraj / Reuters

A member of the Bangladesh Coast Guard serves food to Mohammad Rafique and Amena Akter, both Rohingyas from Myanmar, in Teknaf June 19, 2012.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has ordered $50 million in aid be sent to a Muslim minority in Myanmar which a human rights group said has been targeted by the authorities since sectarian riots in June.

A report on the Saudi state news agency said the Rohingya community had been “exposed to many violations of human rights including ethnic cleansing, murder, rape and forced displacement”.

“King Abdullah … has ordered that assistance of the amount of $50 million be provided to the Rohingya Muslim citizens in Myanmar,” said the report which was carried by Saudi media on Sunday. It did not say who was to blame for the abuses.

However, Human Rights Watch said on August 1 that the Rohingyas had suffered mass arrests, killings and rapes at the hands of the Myanmar security forces. The minority had borne the brunt of a crackdown after days of arson and machete attacks in June by both Buddhists and Rohingyas in Rakhine state, the monitoring group said.

Myanmar, where at least 800,000 Rohingyas are not recognized as one of the country’s many ethnic and religious groups, has said it exercised “maximum restraint” in quelling the riots.

Saudi Arabia sees itself as a guardian of global Muslim interests thanks to being the birthplace of Islam and home to some of the religion’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina. However, Riyadh also regularly draws criticism from campaigners for its lack of democracy.

Last week the Saudi cabinet condemned the violence against Muslims in northwest Myanmar and at a meeting on July 31, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the kingdom’s second city of Jeddah urged members to send Rohingya Muslims aid.

The OIC is holding a summit in Mecca on Tuesday.

( / 13.08.2012)

Gazans Pay One-third of Income for Clean Water

gaza water line polluted oxfam
Gaza’s population is increasing, and the water supply is not keeping pace according to Oxfam, the British human rights organization. In a new report, the group asserts that Gazans are spending as much as one-third of their household income on drinking water, and are facing growing health risks.

“The infrastructure has been deteriorating rapidly because we are not able to repair and maintain it,” Karl Schembri, a spokesman for Oxfam in Gaza told The Media Line. Referring to action as far back as Operation Cast Lead at the end of 2008 and start of 2009, “Israeli military attacks have had a severe impact on the civilian infrastructure and particularly on the water network.”

Gaza’s main source of water for its dense population of 1.6 million people is the coastal aquifer. Ghada Snunu of EWASH, a non-governmental organization that deals with water quality, says that 95 percent of the water in the coastal aquifer has dangerous levels of nitrates and chloride, often ten times what the World Health Organization recommends.

“Drinking this water is causing diarrhea among children and ‘baby blue syndrome’ in which it is difficult to transfer blood into tissues, making the baby blue,” she told The Media Line. “Children in refugee camps have an increase in water-born diseases because of the poor quality of the water.”

Both Oxfam and EWASH blame the Israeli “blockade” of Gaza, which limits imports of some raw materials that could be used to make weapons, which was implemented in 2007 after the Islamist Hamas forcibly took over control Gaza from the Palestinian Authority.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev says Israel is doing everything possible to help Gazans drink clean water.

“Israel has been helping to improve the water infrastructure in Gaza and Israel was willing to double or even triple the amount of water going into Gaza,” Regev told The Media Line. “It is the same water that you and I drink, and the Gazans would pay less than what we pay but they weren’t willing to accept that solution.”

Palestinian water officials in Gaza say that Israel provides just 4 to 5 million cubic meters of water to Gaza per year, while Gaza uses 100 million cubic meters of water per year for drinking and an additional 80 million cubic meters of partially treated wastewater for agriculture.

Monther Shublaq, the director of Gaza’s Coastal Municipal Water Utilities (CMWU) told The Media Line that Israel has recently raised prices for the water it provides from 75 cents per cubic meter to $1.00 per cubic meter. And while Israel has offered more water, he says, it will not say when it will provide it.

“I don’t want it in the winter when I don’t really need it,” Shublaq said. “I want it all year.”

He said the majority of Gazans now rely on private water deliveries which are not regulated and are often contaminated.

Gaza is surrounded by the sea, and one solution is desalination. Oxfam and CMWU recently inaugurated a desalination plant and water distribution pipeline in the southern city of Rafah.

“Finally, for the first time in our life, we can drink water directly from our taps,” Abu Rami from Rafah told representatives from Oxfam. “It will take me a while to remember that I can drink tap water.”

But desalination is expensive. Shublaq says Palestinians hope to eventually desalinate100 million cubic meters per year to cover most of Gaza’s requirements. Updating the infrastructure would also help stop leakage.

Ghada Snunu of EWASH says Israel must allow water from the mountain aquifer, which runs under both Israel and the West Bank, to reach Gaza. Palestinians say the West Bank and Gaza, along with east Jerusalem, should be part of the Palestinian state.

But all of these solutions take time and are expensive. Meanwhile, many Gazans will continue to drink water that is expensive, polluted, or both.

( / 13.08.2012)

Don’t go to Israel because it mistreats Palestinians, South Africa tells citizens as mayors cancel trip

In Johannesburg, a graffiti artist helped promote this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week.

“Because of the treatment and policies of Israel towards the Palestinian people, we strongly discourage South Africans from going there,” South Africa’s deputy minister of international relations and co-operation has told the Mail & Guardian.

The Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim added that this was South Africa’s “general policy,” but more so “in regard to municipalities, since they are part of government.”

South African mayor’s visit to Israel canceled

The minister’s comments came in the wake of the cancelation of a visit to Israel by a delegation of mayors and municipal leaders from South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. The Mail & Guardian reported:

A South African pro-Palestinian lobby group has welcomed the news that a delegation of mayors and other members of several KwaZulu-Natal municipalities has cancelled a planned visit to Israel.

“This is a major setback for the Israeli lobby and particularly the SA-Israel Forum, which we believe had organised the trip,” said Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, a board member of the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement of South Africa. “The KZN province should be commended for its principled position. Now that the Israeli lobby has been exposed and, in a way, caught red-handed, it will be difficult for it to do its pro-Israeli work.

The newspaper reported that KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize had confirmed the cancelation of the visit that was supposed to have taken place last month.

“Boycott-busting” similar to South Africa’s apartheid regime.

The cancelation of the South African mayors’ visit comes just months after the South African government decided to require that goods originating from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank will be labeled as such. This has been seen as a first step toward banning such goods altogether.

Ronnie Kasrils, a former minister, and one of the legendary founders of the armed wing of the African National Congress during the struggle against apartheid, welcomed the mayors’ move.

“During the days of Apartheid we had similar attempts by the regime to undermine the isolation of South Africa. It is not surprising that the Israeli lobby is also attempting to ensnare the unwary into boycott-busting trips,” Kasrils was quoted saying in a release from BDS South Africa.

KwaZulu-Natal’s “rejection of this opportunistic invite is commendable and an example to all South Africans believing in justice and solidarity for the dispossessed Palestinians,” Kasrils added.

COSATU – the confederation of South African trade unions – which has fully endorsed the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel – commended KwaZulu Natal for its “principled decision not to go on this trip organized by the Israeli lobby.” COSATU’s Zanele Matebula added “it is about time that the SA-Israel Forum and their boycott-busting trips to Israel has been exposed.”

SA-Israel Forum an “arm of the Israel lobby”

BDS South Africa explained that in violation of the Palestinian cal for BDS, the lobby group SA-Israel Forum

has attempted several “boycott-busting” trips to Israel. The SA-Israel Forum is mostly a covert arm of the Israeli lobby operating in South Africa with direct connections to CapeGate – a South African company that, shamefully, supplies material to, and profits from, the construction of Israel’s notorious, “Apartheid Wall”).

The SA-Israel Forum seeks to co-opt business and entice local government by circumventing SA’s national policy- – which is to discourage relations with the Israeli regime. The Israeli lobby in general, and the SA-Israel Forum in particular, have been taking members from the academic, sports, business, media and local government sectors to forge relations with the Israeli establishment (which is becoming increasingly isolated because of Israel’s oppression toward the Palestinian people and  active BDS campaigning worldwide).

It likened these efforts to apartheid South Africa’s propaganda efforts “to build relations for an isolated Pretoria regime.”

The cancelation of the KwaZulu-Natal mayor’s visit demonstrates, however, that these efforts are meeting with more resistance and that BDS is winning victories in South Africa.

( / 13.08.2012)